How Much Does it Cost to Stain a Deck?

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated March 21, 2022
A wooden deck with outdoor furniture in the backyard of a house
Photo: LazingBee / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Staining a deck helps protect the wood from the elements

  • An average deck staining job costs between $550–$1,250

  • Deck staining prices vary depending on its size and condition 

  • Some decks require cleaning, stripping, or sanding ahead of time

  • Deck staining is a DIY-friendly job

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Staining a deck is a great way to protect it from the elements and prolong its overall lifespan, so you and your family can enjoy it for years to come. Wood decks require regular maintenance, and homeowners should consider staining their decks every two to three years for best results—an average deck staining job costs around $850, with most jobs ranging between $550 to $1,250.

This is a potential DIY project for budding home renovators, but contacting a local deck staining pro ensures quality results.

Deck Staining Cost Breakdown 

Deck staining costs vary upon several factors, including the size of the deck, its condition, and any useful add-ons like sealing, power washing, and waterproofing. An average-sized wood deck of around 250 square feet costs between $400 to $600, though add-ons bring this price up to about $800. This cost includes labor and staining materials. 

Generally speaking, deck stain runs between $1.00 to $2.50 per square foot, so budget according to size. Here is what you’ll spend money on when staining a deck: 

Staining Solution

4 deck stains compared by average cost per gallon, including clear averaging $20 to $60

There are many staining products out there, each with its own cost ranges and preferred use case scenarios. A qualified pro knows the ins and outs of each of these options, but here is a quick primer for beginners. 

Note: The prices below list per gallon costs. One gallon of staining solution covers 150 to 300 square feet, depending on the wood's age, condition, and porosity. 

  • Water-based deck stain: This is your average deck staining solution, costing around $20–$90 per gallon. These semi-transparent stains are environmentally friendly, meaning they are water-based and produce less VOCs after they cure. These solutions are also mold- and mildew-resistant. Some water-based stains don’t penetrate the wood deeply, so read the fine print before purchasing. 

  • Oil-based deck stain: Oil-based stains deeply penetrate wood, but you’ll pay $35–$120 per gallon for the privilege. These stains are a fine job at resisting mold. 

  • Solid deck stain: If you are stuck deciding between staining a deck or painting a deck, a solid deck stain provides the best of both worlds. These solutions cost $25–$70 per gallon, with availability in both water and oil-based formulas. 

  • Clear deck stain: If you really want the natural beauty of your wood planks to shine through post-stain, go with a clear or transparent solution. These formulas cost $20–$60 per gallon, with availability in both water and oil-based options. 

Cleaning, Prep, and Paint Removal

Decks all have their own quirks, and pre-staining involves removing paint, cleaning away debris, and sanding down misshapen portions of wood. Pros typically wrap these other projects in with your total cost estimate, but each of these tasks impacts the price: 

  • Power washing and staining: Wood decks require pristine conditions before staining, and that’s where power washing (also known as pressure washing) comes in. Most pros wrap up a good cleaning as part of the staining process, so expect to pay $0.50–$1.50 per square foot for a wash-then-stain combo. If you are doing it yourself, renting a power washer costs around $50–$65 per day, and purchasing one outright ranges from $100–$1,500

  • Sanding and staining: Many decks need a good sanding before applying the staining solution. If your deck only needs light sanding, you’ll pay $1.00–$1.50 per square foot, including staining. If the job requires heavy sanding, you’ll pay $2.00–$4.00 per square foot for both sanding and staining.

  • Paint-stripping and staining: Paint-stripping is a lengthy process, requiring remover products to soak in overnight. In other words, you’ll pay $1.50–$3.00 per square foot, which includes staining. 

Labor

Deck staining contractors charge around $40 to $70 per hour, so labor costs vary by how long the job takes. A deck that measures 250 square feet requires about 10 hours of labor but this metric increases with more intensive work. For instance, sanding alone takes five to 10 hours, and paint and finish-stripping take up to 20 hours.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Deck Staining?

A man using a brush staining a wooden deck
Photo: archigram / E+ / Getty Images

There are some additional factors worth considering that impact your overall cost when staining a deck. 

Re-staining 

This one actually saves money for some homeowners. If you are keeping up to date on your deck stainings every two to three years, you’ll pay less when re-staining a deck. This is because the process is simpler, as pros won’t sand or strip the deck before starting. You’ll pay between $0.50 and $1.00 per square foot for a simple re-staining. 

Sealing

Staining and sealing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Some pros wrap sealing into the overall project cost, but others charge separately for a good seal. Ask your pro ahead of time about sealing prices. Sealing your deck as a standalone job costs $550 to $1,275, though it is absolutely essential to help protect the wood from the elements. Sealing your deck as part of a staining job typically raises your price range to around $800 to $1,700. 

Stairs and Railings

Some decks have railings, which also benefit from a good stain. Staining railings on your deck costs between $4.00 to $12.50 per linear foot. Depending on your contractor's recommendations, this price includes power washing or sanding. As for stairs, account for the surface area, both tread and riser, when totaling up your deck's square footage. 

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro 

You’ll pay between $20 to $250 for the staining solution if you do it yourself, saving on all labor costs. You’ll also pay for any necessary equipment rentals, including pressure washers and sanders. Staining a deck is not a difficult job, per se, but it is a time-consuming one. Set aside a day or even more. On the other hand, hiring a pro ensures a smooth job and decreases the chances of accidental damage with a pressure washer or sanding belt.

Deck Staining Project Questions and Answers

How do I find a reputable deck sanding specialist? 

Before hiring someone to sand, seal, and stain your deck, check out the company’s official website and look them up on the Better Business Bureau portal and any related trade forums. 

After that, give them a call to discuss the job, taking care to specifically mention the size of your deck, its condition, and any related concerns. A contractor worth their weight in staining solution should be able to answer any and all questions with ease. You should also reach out to any references they provide and inquire about their project satisfaction. 

What other projects should I do at the same time?

To cut back on project expenses, do any and all deck-related projects or staining-related projects at the same time. Updates may include painting, refinishing, adding railings or stairs, and more. Related projects include staining a pergola or any other wooden structures throughout your property. 

Does weather impact the best time to stain a deck?

Weather impacts the time to stain a deck because  the staining solution won’t adhere to damp wood and may cause it to crack and peel over time. Apply staining formula to dry wood when it hasn’t rained in several days and check the weather forecast to ensure you’ll have two more dry days at temperatures between 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Low and average humidity promotes faster and more efficient drying. However, staining in direct sunlight comes with its own challenges, as extreme heat can dry the staining solution before the wood absorbs it.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.